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38 ‘gifts’ for City of York Council leader James Alexander
YORK council leader James Alexander received gifts and hospitality on 38 occasions last year – compared with only two enjoyed by his predecessor Andrew Waller in the previous 12 months.
The figures are revealed in City of York Council ’s register of interests, in which councillors record any gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £25.
Coun Alexander’s register, published in July, shows he received gifts or instances of hospitality with a total approximate value of more than £1,300.
They included two visits to the Ebor race meeting as guest of CPP and William Derby, a night’s stay and dinner at the Blackpool Hilton Hotel as guest of Blackpool Council, a venison feast at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall as guest of Adam Sinclair, lunch at Middlethorpe Hall courtesy of Lionel Chatard, of York Hoteliers Association, and complimentary tickets to York City’s FA Trophy Final and Play-Off final matches and meals.
Mr Waller’s register, published in August 2010, recorded only complimentary York City tickets to Wembley and a visit to the York Race Meeting courtesy of Welcome to Yorkshire.
Coun Alexander said for transparency and openness, he recorded all gifts and hospitality in fulfilling his duties as council leader, despite not always being required to.
“This is an important part of my role representing the city, representing it on a wider stage than it has been in previous years, such as within the Leeds City Region,” he said.
“On many occasions, I have paid my own travel and other costs in fulfilling these duties.
“All gifts and hospitality recorded are at no cost to the council taxpayer.
“If this differs greatly from the way previous recent leaders have operated, then questions should be directed to them.”
Mr Waller said each council leader had his own way of doing things and when he was leader, he had – with few exceptions – paid for his own transport costs.
“I felt that at a time of austerity, it was important not to put additional pressure on the budget,” he said.
“In the key areas for York of tourism and flooding, I had a leading role in the region but seemingly on a shoestring.”